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The death of Franco Harris only deepens nostalgia for ‘The Immaculate Reception

Pittsburgh Steelers Corridor of Fame operating again Franco Harris died Wednesday, simply days earlier than the 50th anniversary of the “Immaculate Reception,” what many have known as one of many best performs in NFL historical past.

The play occurred in Harris’ rookie 12 months in 1972. Over his profession, he would go on to win 4 Tremendous Bowls over the course of a decade with the staff — together with being topped the MVP of Tremendous Bowl IX, the staff’s first championship — and be inducted into the Corridor of Fame the primary 12 months he was eligible.

Check out his notorious play and what makes it particular.

Within the closing seconds of Dec. 23, 1972, AFC divisional spherical playoff recreation between the Steelers and Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh was trailing 7-6 when quarterback Terry Bradshaw threw a cross downfield. It ricocheted off a collision between Steelers operating again John Fuqua and Raiders security Jack Tatum and into the fingers of Harris, who was a number of yards behind and corralled the ball simply earlier than it grazed the bottom. Amid the chaos, Harris sprinted 60 yards to the tip zone for the game-winning rating.

“It is only a good story. We add just a little to it as time goes on as a result of it is higher,” Bradshaw instructed “I had a lot of enjoyable messing with him about his blocking and catching the ball. We infrequently threw the ball to him. It is only a good story. I am 74, and I take pleasure in these tales greater than ever.”

The staff will rejoice in the catch this weekend

The Steelers have a number of occasions lined up this weekend to commemorate the play, although it’s unclear if Harris’ demise will change the itinerary.

On Friday, Harris was scheduled to collect along with his 1972 teammates on the Immaculate Reception monument, which is positioned on the actual spot Harris made the catch on the since-demolished Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. The unique radio broadcast of the play may even be performed, in line with the Steelers.

On Saturday, a rematch between the Raiders and Steelers will happen and the Immaculate Reception can be honored all through. At halftime, Harris’s jersey quantity 32 can be retired, making him solely the third participant in the Steelers’ historical past to obtain the glory, the Steelers mentioned.

Raiders and Steelers followers share their recollections of the play

Whereas the town of Pittsburgh has devoted a statue and memorial to Franco Harris and the Immaculate Reception, some Raiders followers have been devastated to see their staff lose in such a jarring method.

“I’ve at all times considered “The Immaculate Reception” because of the play that sparked the Pittsburgh Steelers dynasty,” one particular person mentioned.

“As an enormous #Oakland @Raiders fan as a boy, I cried like, effectively, just a little boy when the Raiders misplaced to the Steelers within the Immaculate Reception recreation 50 years in the past…RIP Franco,” one other particular person mentioned.

“Completely shocked. And on the week when the @steelers and @Raiders play to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his Immaculate Reception,” a consumer mentioned. “You did not have to be a Pittsburgh fan to be a #FrancoHarris fan. Relaxation in energy, Champion.”

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